There are multiple benefits to having a backyard garden pond, ranging from environmental aspects to impacting positively on your physical and mental health.
There’s an outdoor pond to suit every style and size of property – you might require a small and easy to maintain water feature, dream of a huge expanse of water boasting a myriad of wildlife – or anything else in between.
Whatever size, shape or form a pond might take, the following are some of the many advantages of having a delightful watery nirvana right in your own backyard…
Benefits Of Having An Backyard Garden Pond
A backyard garden pond impacts the environment in many ways. In fact, adding an expanse of water (of any size) to your outdoor space is one the greatest things you can do for the planet we call home...
- Provides a safe haven for wildlife: As we experience more and more urbanisation the natural habitat for many species is being reduced dramatically.
Installing a pond in your garden helps address this, and will soon become a relied upon resource for a plethora of wildlife.
Birds will drink and preen, insects will thrive, amphibians will make it their home, mammals will discover a welcoming watering hole…
Ponds attract so much life, thanks to offering life-giving water, food, a sheltered breeding ground, bathing spots and more – not to mention providing you with a wonderful location in which to observe Mother Nature at her finest.
- Provides a healthy ecosystem: The moisture from a pond will leech into the surrounding soil, providing water to nearby plants and grasses.
In general, established backyard garden pond don’t need to be filled up with water (although this might not be wholly accurate during a hot Aussie summer), as rainfall will naturally filter through and keep levels high.
This allows the water to naturally stabilise into its own self-sustaining ecosystem, benefiting the wildlife who make it their home and the plant life that surrounds it.
- Reduces environmental pollutants: It does this by taking up an area of yard that would otherwise probably be covered in lawn. This negates the need for mowing and caring for an area of grass.
This, in turn, decreases pollutants expelled by a lawnmower (in the case of petrol models), reduces the use of electricity (if you have a corded mower) and removes the need to use pesticides and fertilisers for said lawn.
The use of these, while making for a bowling green-esque area of grass, has the disadvantage of creating toxic runoff from rainwater that then ends up in the water supply.In addition, a pond creates sludge that’s then trapped in the filter.
This is a great natural fertiliser that can be used on other areas of the garden environment.
- Creates a location conducive to native plants: The area around your pond can be planted with native plant life. This provides the most natural environment for the local wildlife that’s attracted to the water.
This is vital, especially in suburban areas, as more and more natural habitats are destroyed to make way for houses, roads and industrial areas.
No-one can deny that ponds are great to look at! Not only do they provide visual benefits, but those that are auditory too.
- Adds a great focal point: From watching the ripples on the water to spotting fish as they dart beneath the surface, backyard garden pond, quite simply, look wonderful.
You might want to consider adding features, such as waterfalls, rock borders or statues, and plants.
Lilies and reeds not only make a pond even more visually appealing, but the wildlife will appreciate the shade and shelter they provide. You can also add Fornight lilies or Dietes grandiflora to the mix.
- Create your own private Zen zone: The sound of water is unmistakable – simply close your eyes and enjoy the hypnotic babble created as the water filters or spills over a water feature.
It’s like having your own private therapy session (and it’s cheaper) – the calming effects of the sound of water are nothing short of amazing.
You can also use this to drown out other noise. This might be traffic, noisy neighbours or something else, but it can be pretty effective.
A pond helps create white noise (think a fountain or waterfall) that masks other sounds.
It’s even more effective if you build a backdrop that reflects the echo of the water in the direction of the source of the unwanted noise.
Anything that has a positive effect on health has to be a good thing, right? So let’s talk about how a simple backyard pond can have far reaching benefits – particularly for your mental health.
- It provides sanctuary: In our 24/7 world – and especially for the ever-increasing number of people who carry out some element of their job from home – having a calming place of sanctuary isn’t just nice to have, it’s an absolute necessity.
We talked about the calming effects of water above, and a pond creates an area where you can sit and escape the frenetic buzz of the world at large.
- Reduces stress and anxiety: Water releases negative ions into the air that surrounds it.
These are believed to help the uptake of serotonin within the brain, an important function of human physiology that significantly helps us cope with and reduce stress and anxiety.
The negative ions also help purify the air, combat allergens and germs, which in turn has a positive effect on the overall health of the body.
- Improves physical health: While ponds are relatively simple to keep in good health, they do require some element of physical effort to look after.
Tending plants, feeding fish, cleaning the filters, weeding etc all promote the activity necessary to remain in good shape.
Kids and adults alike can learn much from having a pond – and it’s good fun too.
- Discover more about the natural world: Watching the wildlife as it thrives in and around a pond creates a real connection between humans and nature.
It’s one thing to read about our relationship with the natural world – but quite another thing to watch it playing out in front of your eyes.
The whole aspect of planning, building and tending a pond increases awareness of how ecosystems work.
In turn, this intensifies awareness of our place within the environment and the impact our actions have upon it.
- Increases our environmental responsibilities: Watching our own little piece of nature is likely to stimulate a more intense desire to be environmentally responsible in other areas.
Children benefit from growing up with this ethos, helping to instill a mindset that creates a better future for our planet.
You might not think that having a pond brings with it any financial benefits, but you’d be wrong…
- Reduces energy needs: Air is naturally cooler around water, and in the hot Aussie climate this means that you’ll have a more pleasant environment in which to sit when the mercury climbs.
This in turn can lead to being outside more, and the resulting less use of air conditioning and fans in the house, therefore lowering your energy consumption.
- Conserves water: Because the area around a pond is naturally watered, there’s less need to use additional H2O to water plants and lawns.
Clever positioning of drain pipes can direct water runoff into the pond itself, so providing a natural reservoir (and reducing the need to top up a pond in the dry season).
You can also use water from the pond for other plants in the backyard.
- Can add value to your property: Ponds are highly prized, and while having one in the yard might not add dollars to the price tag, it can definitely add to the wow factor.
And that is exactly what you need to increase the desirability of a property. Sure, you might not be thinking of selling right now.
But in the future? Well, who knows…?
5 Things to Consider Before Putting a Pond in Your Garden
Ponds can be a wonderful addition to any garden – they attract wildlife, and offer a platform for a fantastic range of beautiful plants.
But before you grab your shovel, hold on just a second: there are a few things you should consider first to ensure that your pond is the very best it can be.
1. Make it Safe
Safety is paramount where ponds are concerned, and it’s definitely something you should bear in mind as you plan yours. The good news is, that if you consider safety features as you’re putting your pond together, you may have more options available to you than if you have to adapt your pond later on.
“Either way, the most important aspect is that the fence is solid, and impenetrable. Children can be very clever when it comes to problem solving!”
Other tips include creating sloping edges, installing a pool alarm and putting in a wire mesh top – check the post to find out more.
2. Choose a Suitable Location
If at all possible, choose a spot that is sunny, level, and away from trees.
This will allow your plants to thrive, and mean that the amount of leaves you need to clear away each autumn is significantly reduced.
See our list of the best water plants you can grow in Australia.
Also, try to find a spot that is visible from inside your house – both for the safety of children, and so that you can enjoy looking at your creation when you’re indoors.
3. Include Multiple Levels
Many green fingered types want to install a pond in order to attract wildlife to their garden, as the water can attract lots of different types of insects and animals that may never venture into your yard otherwise.
To make your pond really attractive to wildlife, though, you should plan it carefully and include useful features, such as a range of levels.
As Jeremy Biggs at The Garden Pond Blog explains, “Most garden ponds don’t have enough shallow water. The greatest variety (of) wildlife in ponds lives in the very shallow water and tadpoles, newt larvae, water beetles, dragonflies: all love these really shallow areas. A planting shelf that you see on many pre-formed liners is, as far as wildlife is concerned, deep water!
“Make as much shallow water as you can for the best wildlife ponds.”
4. Don't Use Invasive Plants
Certain species of plant are liable to take over your pond completely, and destroy the other plants that live there.
Avoid introducing the following plants to your pond:
- Canadian waterweed Elodea canadensis
- Carolina water-shield/fanwort Cabomba caroliniana
- Caulerpa taxifolia and Caulerpa racemosa (marine algae/seaweed)
- Creeping water-primrose Ludwigia peploides
- Curly waterweed Lagarosiphon major (Elodea crispa)
- Duck potato Sagittaria latifolia
- Fallopia japonica x Fallopia sachalinensis
- False Hampshire-purslane Ludwigia x kentiana
- Few-flowered leek Allium paradoxum
- Floating pennywort Hydrocotyle ranunculoides
- Giant hogweed Heracleum mantegazzianum
- Giant knotweed Fallopia sachalinensis
- Hottentot fig Carpobrotus edulis
5. Decide What You Want from Your Pond
Keeping an open mind can be great when gardening, as you can adapt your yard as inspiration strikes.
But when installing a pond, it’s good to have a rough idea of what you’re hoping to achieve at the beginning, so that you can incorporate the necessary elements as you plan the area.
It is also essential to design the pond's plumbing system which is what our pond plumbing guide will teach you.
- Do you want to attract wildlife?
- Would you like to keep koi carp in the pond?
- Are you hoping for a waterfall feature?
Getting an idea for how you want your pond to look will enable you to make decisions early on about the design of your pond, especially key elements which can have an impact later on down the line, like size and location.
Tips for Growing a Garden Around Water
If your outdoor space includes water, there are some special things you should be aware of. Follow the tips below for growing a garden in or around water.
Growing a Garden Around Pools
Pools are an excellent way to relax during warmer months, but growing a garden around them presents special challenges.
Because of the chlorination – or salt content depending upon pool type – and the upkeep associated with a healthy pool, selecting your plants and gardening techniques carefully is essential.
- Select Heat-Resistant Plants. Pools reflect light and heat; that’s why you get such a great tan lying next to one or in one. This means that any nearby plants will also be subject to extra light and heat.
Select weather-resistant plants that can hold their own under extreme conditions.
- Choose Plants That Are Tidy. Keeping a pool clean is a daily battle. From emptying and caring for the filter to physically cleaning the pool itself, upkeep requires work — this is why many opt for pool enclosures.
Be sure to look for options that don’t drop leaves or flowers so you don’t spend an excessive amount of time cleaning out your pool.
- Use Containers. While your pool water may seem contained, if people swim in it, there will be splashing. Sure, that splashing might seem harmless, but if the ground around your garden becomes saturated with chemicals from the water, the plants are likely to suffer. Use containers to create a level of separation.
Garden Around Fountains
Much like pools, fountains are manmade structures that add beauty to your backyard. Unlike pools, they don’t contain chemicals. However, there are special considerations for gardens in and around fountains.
- Consider Water Plants. Plants like lily-pads create a sense of beauty and wonder that are only possible in chemical-free water. Use a little creativity to spice up your fountain.
- Add Fragrance. Love sitting near your fountain to relax? Does the sound of the water sooth you? Why not add an additional level of enjoyment with fragrant flowers and plants? Go for a mix of beauty and scent with fragrant plants like lavender that promote relaxation.
- Take Advantage of Your Lawn. Just because you have a fountain doesn’t mean you can’t plant up to its edge. While it’s pleasant to have a walking path to your backyard fountain, it also requires upkeep. Instead, by growing your lawn up to its edge, you can enhance its appearance without additional work.
Tips for Garden Around Ponds
Whether your pond is natural or man-made, it can be an aesthetically pleasing aspect of your backyard. Consider the following planting tips for its surrounding garden.
- Use Compost or Fertiliser. Unlike a backyard pool or fountain, ponds are meant to appear natural. This means that you’ll want to hide any liners or unsightly edges.
Using compost or fertiliser up to the edge helps camouflage any eyesores and promotes the health of surrounding plants.
- Add Visually Appealing Grasses. Landscaping grasses add visual appeal without the work. Because of their height, they can disguise pond edges, leading to a natural flow.
They can also provide needed food and refuge for wildlife around your pond and any fish or frogs living in your pond.
- Pay Attention to Your Pond’s Inhabitants. While a plant may have beautiful flowers or an appealing aroma, it might be deadly for fish and frogs that call your pond home.
To maintain safety, do research upfront and avoid any plants that may be harmful to your pond’s inhabitants.
Water can be a visually appealing feature of your backyard, whether it’s in the form or a pool, a fountain, a pond or something else entirely.
Follow the tips above and think about how you’d like to enhance your outdoor space during the next growing season.
Dealing with Pond Algae
Pond algae is a common complaint among pond-owners, and whilst green sludge is the stuff of nightmares, a totally algae-free pond will always be a pipedream. Because the truth is, there’s no such thing as an algae-free pond.
That’s because algae occurs naturally in water and it’s actually essential for a healthy and ecologically balanced pond.
But whilst every pond will have some algae growing in it, it doesn’t mean that you have to settle for dark, thick and unsightly garden water features.
With regular maintenance and attention, pond algae can be kept under control and to a minimum. If you prefer clean to green, there are some basic algae facts that you should know which will help with maintenance and planning.
Perhaps the most important thing to understand about controlling the growth of algae is why it grows. Once you understand what type of environment is conducive to the growth of algae, it will be much easier to know what to do in order to control it.
Basically, algae needs light and nutrients (nitrates and phosphate) to thrive. It loves a pond where there’s debris at the bottom which results in loads of nutrients.
It also loves food, so it’s particularly happy when your fish are being over-fed or your water lilies are getting a bit too much fertiliser. It likes shallow water where the temperatures are warmer and it loves flat surfaces.
Most of all, algae likes it when the complex system in your pond is imbalanced, so to keep the green stuff in abeyance, the trick is to do the things that restore equilibrium.
What Algae Likes and What to do About it
Don’t overfeed fish or overstock your pond with fish as their excrement may be resulting in excess nutrients. Some experts even recommend reducing fish food during an algal bloom to force the fish to eat algae instead of their regular food.
Check the run-off from gardens, lawns and even aquatic plants to make sure that fertilisers and chemicals aren’t ending up in your pond.
Increasing coverage of the pond’s surface area with floating plants and water lilies will decrease the amount of sunlight available to pond algae.
Algae will grow rapidly in a small, shallow pond where the water heats up quickly. Again, lots of lilies and aquatic plants will help shade the water and keep the temperature down.
However, you will notice that algae is generally at its worst in spring when water temperatures are on the rise, the sun is warmer and the plants haven’t started their new season growth.
Excessive surface vegetation can also result in too little oxygen in the water however, and this is detrimental to the growth of algae-eaters such as fish, aquatic snails and tadpoles.
As you can see, keeping a pond healthy is all about balancing the ecosystem and keeping algae to a minimum does require an understanding hand.
But there are some types of algae that don’t need to be treated with any compassion – such as floating and string algae – which are also generally more of a problem during seasonal changes.
Getting rid of string algae requires some manual labour, and is best removed by twirling it around a stick or special pond wand. There are also many handy pond supplies on the market which are very helpful in keeping algae to a minimum.
For example, an aerator will oxygenate the water whilst a vacuum can remove organic waste or sludge from the bottom of the pond, thereby preventing algae.
Also see: Dam and Pond Aeration Guide
Minimising Algae in Your Pond
Having some algae in your pond or water feature is a good thing – but having pea soup clearly isn’t. Knowing what causes algal growth and how to minimise it will go a long way towards making the life of a pond owner stress-free.
Remember, like any plant, algae needs food and light in order to photosynthesise and grow and therefore to control it, a number of factors need to be considered.
Excess algae is generally more of a problem in new ponds because the ecological balance between plant and animal life hasn’t yet been established and there are no natural predators which would normally keep algal growth under control.
It goes without saying that regular maintenance, monitoring and management of your pond is important for algae control but let’s look at the most common causes of algae problems and what can be done to minimise them.
High Levels of Light
Abundant sunlight accelerates the growth of algae, so when designing and building a pond, the long-term aim should be to starve algae of light. A dark colour on the pond’s interior is also important.
Other things that reduce sunlight (and therefore reduce the ability of algae to thrive) include shade from nearby trees, shrubs and walls and of course, cover from aquatic plants.
High Water Temperatures
Again, good pond design (steep sides, deep water) will mean the larger volume of water will take longer to warm up, thereby slowing down the growth of algae.
In other words, you need to maximise the pond’s volume relative to its surface area and remember, excess algae is more likely to be worse in the warmer months.
Pollutants in the Pond Water
Excess algae could also be caused by an excess of nutrients in the water. Check that run-off from your garden or lawn or even from rain which could contain soil particles, fertiliser or chemicals isn’t going into your pond and feeding the algae.
It’s important to regularly remove excess leaves and decomposing organic debris from your pond in order to take away this source of nutrients for the algae.
Having the right types and amounts of plants in the pond is important, as these absorb nutrients for themselves and therefore starve the algae of its food source.
A pond should have around two thirds of its surface covered by plants (e.g. water lilies) in order to reduce sunlight and lower the temperature of the water.
Algae also feeds on fish waste and fish food, so it’s important not to overstock your pond.
Poor Water Circulation
Installing the right pond equipment is vital in order to pond algae control. Algae loves stagnant conditions, so it is important to keep the water moving with pond supplies like pumps and filters.
Chemical treatments can also be used to minimise algae, and the first step should be testing your water to identify deficiencies (e.g. wrong pH levels) and then getting the appropriate product to fix it.
However, there are many different products on the market and it is important to discuss your needs with experts who specialise in creating, managing and enhancing aquatic environments.
Water treatment products are also very helpful, to help control all biological problems from algae to harmful sludge. Algae is a reality, but there are many things that pond owners can do to create a stable pond environment and reduce the prevalence of outbreaks.
Brett McCormack is the Aquascape Supplies account manager for Vic, Tas, SA and WA. Aquascape Supplies are Australia’s source for pond equipment.
We offer professional advice from experienced pond designers and builders and can assist you with the right equipment for your project.
Get in touch with our experts for advice on pond liners, pond pumps, water features and more.
Wrapping Up Our Garden Pond Guide
As you can see, there are many benefits to having a backyard garden pond. Before deciding to have one, make sure to know what to consider before putting a backyard garden pond.
It may seem that there is lots to think about when planning a pond, but once you’ve got started you’re likely to be so excited and caught up with inspiration that it will seem much more like fun than work.
The key to the highest level of enjoyment is to take good advice, purchase good quality elements and to look after it in the correct manner.
Aquascapes Supplies Australia, are your one-stop-shop location for everything and anything to do with backyard ponds.
With years of experience and a professional, approachable team, Australian residents need look no further for all of their backyard garden pond needs.